Saturday, January 27, 2007

Despite Surge in Language Skills, Congress Still Against Actual Substance of Comments

Yeah, I think we got the gist of that from your last civics lesson. The more things change I guess. I don't really understand the point of singling out Iranians here. I doubt the Army has a policy of checking passports before returning fire. It is well-established that Iraq has become the flame to the moths of international fundamentalists. I don't think that needlessly highlighting any Iranian national involvement right now is a good idea considering that the rest of the international community finally agreed to impose sanctions on Iran for its complete disregard for the IAEA. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before Tehran retorts that the US is trying to further malign Iran.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Hmmm, This Game Looks Interesting, But Really Hard

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Very Merry Unbirthday!

That title is probably in bad taste, but I can't think of anything else for the moment. Today is the anniversary of probably the most famous and controversial Supreme Court case ever: Roe v. Wade. This year might bring a bit of a change, as Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood, the case challenging the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, is currently under submission by the Supreme Court (strangely enough, the Supremes granted cert on the companion case, Carhart, on my birthday last year).

Every court that has heard a challenge to this law, has found it unconstitutional. Congress, like the state law at issue in Stenberg v. Carhart, fails to provide an exception for the health of the mother in the Partial-Birth Abortion Act, which the Court has consistently held to be essential to pass constitutional muster. I believe it would be difficult for the Court to uphold this law so soon after Stenberg and still claim to subscribe to stare decisis. But, the conservative members of the Court might not give Roe and its progeny much weight, as Scalia and Thomas have consistently denied that abortion is protected by the Constitution. Congress also "researched" the issue, making deference to the factual findings of Congress to be a way out for uncertain judges.

Personally, I resent Congress for revisiting this issue so soon after Stenberg. It was an obvious challenge by crusading Republicans, high on their own power at the time, to out "activist" judges and denounce the judiciary. But they wrote substantially the same law as was struck down in Stenberg. I feel this way about the flag burning laws, and some of the other stuff they do up there on the hill. Why don't you balance the budget and fix our health care system (you know, things that we all agree the government should be involved in) before you start fiddling with our personal lives, ok?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Can I Get a Witness!?

Hey lawschoolers!

Heads up on a potential Wills and Trusts Exam Question:

South Carolina-Soul legend James Brown's will names six children but does not name the 5-year-old child of Brown and his partner, Tomi Rae Hynie, a former back-up singer for Brown.

The will was filed Thursday and obtained by The Associated Press.

The will begins, "I, James Brown, also known as `The Godfather of Soul' ... have six living children."

James Brown's will, filed in court, omits partner and young son (from FindLaw)

O'Reilly in the Brass Balls Zone

Just in case you missed this little bit of cable tv history last night. I'm actually impressed that O'Reilly agreed to do this, but Colbert also did an interview on O'Reilly's show, which earns him his own Big Brass Balls Award. This is pretty funny stuff, including (and the video doesn't show this) the huge "Mission Accomplished" banner that was unfurled right before O'Reilly came out.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Buen Dia Puerto Rico!

The gf and I had been planning on going on a vacation for a while, so I requested the time off way in advance, and we decided to just monitor airfare to various central american destinations and figure it out. We wanted to try and go to either Costa Rica or Belize. Surprisingly, however, tickets from SF to San Juan Puerto Rico were several hundred dollars cheaper, so we decided to go there. I didn't know much about the place (including its complex relationship with the United States). I was incredibly surprised. It is a beautiful, beautiful place. We stayed on the south side of the island, near Patillas, and there were very few gringos. Other than at our small hotel, we didn't see any others at all on the beaches on the south. The locals were incredibly friendly.

We travelled to an island off of the coast, Vieques, and stayed there for a night, and while there were a lot more tourists there, boy was it worth it. The snorkeling was amazing, and we went swimming in a bioluminescent bay at night. Tiny creatures light up when the water is disturbed, so the water actually glows around your limbs as you swim. I had never seen anything like it. The beaches were beautiful, and there were wild horses wandering around. We almost missed our boat back to Puerto Rico, but some locals picked us up and gave us a ride. Gracias hombres!

Church in Patillas

Sunset from our hotel:

Wild Horses on Vieques:

Arriving in Vieques:

The little house we rented from some locals in Vieques. The roosters were really loud. Qui qui ri qui!

Lighthouse outside of Patillas:

Beach in Vieques. Ahhhhh......


Friday, January 05, 2007

I doubt anyone will notice

but I'm off to a Caribbean island for a week. Hasta!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

In other news of hangings.....

This guy was found hanging from a mango tree in India. Sounds like a bunch of guys with sticks served as judge and jury in about a 5 minute fact-finding trial there.,,2089-2529453,00.html

The Execution of Saddam Hussein

I have hesitated to post anything about the execution of Saddam Hussein, mostly because by the time I thought about it, everyone else had already done a better job than I could. And also because the gravity of the event just sort of overwhelmed me. I'm just going to make a few observations.

I have seen a couple of posts and comments that referred to the Iraqi Special Tribunal as a sham court. I don't think that's entirely true. I do believe its independence could be questioned given that it was appointed by the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council back in 2003, but I think under the circumstances, the judges did the best they could, and I don't think their thoroughness can be questioned; the English version of the final written opinion is 298 single-spaced pages-long, making it one of the longest opinions ever issued by a war crimes tribunal (available in English here).

I think in many ways this trial was in trouble from the beginning. Having Iraqi judges apply international law and procedure that they are not familiar with was probably not a good idea. I think some sort of hybrid system would have been better, as was done in Sierra Leone.

While the trial was televised in Iraq, it did not seem to offer any "truth and reconciliation" to the Iraqi people, with the insurgency increasing in intensity. I disagree with the death penalty generally, but even if Saddam was to be executed, I think it would have been better to have him stand trial for all of the crimes for which he is accused. Only then could history, not to mention Iraqis and the outside world, have a better idea of what this man was truly responsible for.

I worry that Hussein's death will end up creating another martyr to a culture that is no stranger to martyrs, a symbol for the Sunni insurgency, and another cog in the downward and self-perpetuating cycle of violence that plagues Iraq and all of the middle east.

(Good article by Michael Scharf about the trial)

Executing Saddam during a holy holiday (Eid ul-Adha), when people are distracted by celebration, is also a particularly bad idea when creating a martyr is already a distinct and predictable outcome.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Double-José Saramago

So I finally finished this book. Having read several others byJose Saramago, I don't think this is his best effort, but it was still worth the time.

In some of his novels, including this one, when Saramago is writing dialogue, he does not use quotation marks and does not start a new paragraph when a new person speaks. What results are huge Proustian sentences, that are really just a dialogue without proper punctuation. It is an interesting and appropriate format (for some of the time the other speaker is not really a separate external being), but leads to a very dense and slow read, and a few times I had to go back to the beginning of the paragraph to figure out who said what.

Saramago is a master of putting people in bizarre situations and the describing how the protagonist and those around him react; kind of like putting ants into a jar and then shaking it up. The results are often disturbing because it is easy to see ourselves react in the same, and often deplorable, manner. In "Blindness" it was a mysterious disease that left the majority of a town without sight. In "The Double," it was a man's discovery of the existence of an exact physical replica of himself living in the same city.

He also wrote a book called "The year of the death of Ricardo Reis" which is magical, but as it deals with the works of another Portuguese writer, Fernando Pessoa (who is a bizarre character himself), I would recommend at least reading up on him before cracking Saramago's novel.